It’s Getting Late October…Welcome November!Β 

Good Evening Sweets, 

As the month of October ends & I hide from trick-or-treaters, I come to write you. You know, to wish you a Happy Birthday…month. 😊 

Surely you didn’t think I forgot about you? Of course not. No, I decided at the end of September to celebrate you and your birthday all month long & call The Awesomes on your actual birthday. As celebration, I wanted to send daily inspiration out into the world on my Instagram page because it sounded like a good idea. Plus it caused me to get up and look for the good. The beautiful. You know, you. Last October seemed to last 90 days so I figured I would combat that feeling with feel-GOODS; early morning thoughts that welcomed October. I knew one of the days I would comfortably write you an open letter- and with every lesson I quickly learned it would be the last day so I could tell you in full all the FunFacts this months dedication brought this way. 

1. Everything really IS everything. It is not my job to make anyone believe it. However, since I believe and see it, it is my job to show people how and why I do. 

2. I have had three men under the age of 40 ask me to slow dance with them. I know it’s not magic, but it did leave me hopeful. 

3. Remember when we lived in the Philippines how we would all chase butterflies and try to touch them? I always thought it would be so cool to touch a butterfly again as an adult. I realize just how fragile they are and I always said I would be more gentle with them the next chance I got. 

4. I have written two books since your last birthday. Just like you told me to do! 😊 

5. Team USA won 3 gold medals in the “Culinary Olympics” this month! Go team goooooo!

6. The word of the day on your birthday was ‘vulnerary,’ the meaning used for or useful in healing wounds. I’m not even sure how to properly use that word in a sentence, so let me tell you what vulnerary technique I’ve been using this month: RELEASING things. (Hope that worked! Hahaha) 

7. What IF…?! I now see why you keep shouting at me to keep writing. You’re funny. 

8. The most important lesson I have learned this month is the beauty of letting go. People, places & things. One main thing is letting go of the notion of having to be anything that I am NOT. I found it to be debilitating and a different form of a lie. Everyday I would write down and release what I was “not,” then replace it afterwards with what I am. It is a pretty healthy exercise and I think I will keep it in my diet! 😊

9. There is a bit of sadness that rustles through these blogs, at least to me. Perhaps not sadness, just something I cannot pinpoint. It needs changing though. I have been looking  over the entries for a while now trying to figure out where I want to go, what direction to take. I am thankful to have spoken to other peoples’ hearts, but overall I feel these lessons have come right back into my pots. Time to wash the dishes and set a new table. I will always keep our love for writing in the forefront. πŸ’œ

Soooooooo, you know how I waited until the end of the month to write you? Well, it was also because I hadn’t seen or heard from you in a while…I kinda thought you forgot about me. Yes, I know, for those who love with their heart and soul there is no such thing as separation…but I miss you, and you said you would never leave my side. Not even for one second. I’m out here telling the world to Expect Miracles and somedays I don’t even damn believe them for mySelf. I had a friend ask me three days ago if I “REALLY believed” in affirmations. That caused me to go back over all my posts from October! Not only did it remind me to practice what I preached, it allowed me the opportunity to see that all this time I have been writing to you. In every post. I dusted mySelf off and asked to be shown something beautiful, with the hope that it would greet me before the month ended. Yesterday I went somewhere I had not been in a long time. I also invited someone to join me which doesn’t ever happen; but it was a small bite out of being uncomfortable because I thought they might find it peaceful. I declared I would see a butterfly. Not only did one fly over us, but on the way out I saw it again later. Upclose and personal…and I got to TOUCH IT! Just like we used to do. Just like you, always listening. 😍 Selfish of me to think You would remain in the same places now that you have the ability to fly. Silly of me to think you wouldn’t figure out a way to make me uncomfortable, while still keeping me focused. I’ll just have to chase YOU! ❀️

Happy Birthday Sweets! I pray you found peace in every day. Thank you. 

Cry Out With Your Whole Heart,

The Smitten Chef βœ¨πŸ€—βœ¨ 


Look at you, lookin’ all pretty and $hit. πŸ’œ


Travel Tales: Savannah, Georgia.Β 

…I have been learning to trust those middle of the night “wake me ups.” Yesterday, I woke up to a bird chirping a song I heard before. Not sure if “before” meant five days ago, or five minutes ago; for the song was also in my dreams. Tonight, I popped up out of my sleep again. Only this time to the tune of crickets. Normally I would go back to bed but I noticed both nights shared more than a song…I woke up at the same time. Only one question left to ask. What is on my mind?

Savannah, Georgia is on my mind. Weekend getaways. Family fun. Miracles. As much as  I love to travel, my mode of transportation preference is by air. The older I get, I conclude it is connected to my excitement and my patience level. GET ME THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE: I want to explore! I already live in Georgia and Savannah is about 4 hours away from start to finish…I have spent half that time getting through security at the airport. Road trip it is. πŸ™‚ 

We left on a Saturday afternoon. There was only one goal: to see my niece. She was on a field trip and we went to support her. We arrived with four hours to spare before her arrival time, leaving us with the perfect amount of time to check in, eat and explore the city. Joy!

My mom picked the perfect location: the riverfront. Not only did this make for gorgeous views in a historic setting, but we both love walking and were close enough to everything to tool around town until our feet said “no more.” We have rules to eating when traveling, and that is to try our best to dine somewhere new and/or at a restaurant we can’t find at home. Don’t get me wrong I love seeing businesses in multiple locations, but as a food lover, half of my reason to travel is to experience all the food this world has to offer! 

We chose a place called Savannah Taphouse. Formerly home to the Avon Theater located on Broughton Street the owners turned into an upscale sports bar. “Bringing Hoppiness to Savannah,” their take away menu reads. The atmosphere is relaxed and comforting. When you walk in, there’s a bar to the left and table seating is available on two floors. We opted to eat upstairs, which was nice because we got to see everything! It was a Saturday night, right around 7:00 pm and we beat the night crowd but still got to enjoy the restaurant while it was full of hustle and bustle. There are 30 tv’s inside (including 6 80″ screens!) and 40 taps and over 100 bottled beers available. We weren’t there for either of those reasons, but I found it pretty cool to be able to come back specifically to sample beers and talk sports. I also liked that my mom and I were there to enjoy one another’s company and were able to have a conversation over 30 tv’s without feeling like we had to scream at each other. Score! 

What brought us to the restaurant was our salad craving. After walking a few blocks around the city, we came back to the taphouse because you can build your own salad. You choose your salad base (romaine or mixed greens) then select 5 toppings. There had to be about 30 items! You could add meat or more toppings for an additional price, ranging from grilled chicken to blackened Mahi. Then you can top it with one of their house made dressings. My mom had mixed greens, with broccoli, black beans, tomatoes, roasted peppers and corn…I had a side salad with the Peppercorn Parmesan dressing and nachos with chicken on top. We also had spinach artichoke dip, that came with pita chips sprinkled with cracked black pepper and salt. Fresh. Hot. Huge portions. Creamy dressings. Lots of cheese on my nachos. Friendly staff & prompt service. Delightful. I’ll be back for sure, and have already decided I’m having the Santa Fe Burger with a beer. πŸ™‚

I had already devoured the dip and dug into my Mom’s salad before remembering I had a camera on deck from sightseeing. Below was my meal. The nachos are bigger than my face and make for a great appetizer that can actually be shared. I know I needed help. 


After we ate, we had good intentions of walking a few blocks. The streets were full of people! The buildings lit up! The air was filled with lovely humidity that reminds you that you are in the south, but not quite as sticky as my last visit- for my curls stayed. The horse and carriage rides added a sweet charm to the city, as did the excitement from the couples walking past us. I could feel the breeze from the river and smell the food from all the restaurants on the way back to the hotel. The city of Savannah had opened its arms and welcomed us. Helllloooo Summertime. ❀

Hello comfortable bed with covers so fluffy, I melted into them. Needed to rest up for whatever the next day with my niece would bring. 

Sunday started at 6:45 am…breakfast in the hotel. Buffet style, omelettes & waffles cooked to order. I ate everything but the two, but if given enough time I would have. πŸ™‚ Fresh fruits, sausages, French toast, grits, potatoes, yogurt and more grits graced my plates. My mother had her fruits and a nice bowl of oatmeal with fixins’. I had not done my usual hotel tour the day before (where I roam the hotel and plan how make use of all the amenities) so I did not know this view would be joining us for breakfast! 


Mid afternoon found us at Old Ft. Jackson. It was about ten minutes from the hotel and another 10-13 minutes if we wanted to make our way on over to Tybee Island. We grabbed some snacks and stayed on the fort. It was a beautiful day, and I was able to capture a history lesson and a few pictures while there before my niece and her crew arrived! When they came, we joined them for a different tour of the fort and learned about the history of the Girl Scouts. I was impressed and the girls were happy. The tour ended with a canon being fired. Neat-O.


After the tour, we all went to eat at a restaurant called The Pirates’ House. This building has quite a bit of history to it, dating all the way back to 1733. It was here that Trustees Garden (the first experimental garden in America) was located. In 2016, it is here you can dine on southern specialties while enjoying an atmosphere that has been preserved to reflect its past. A few of the crew can be found dressed as pirates and there is a nice sized gift shop upstairs totally worth checking out. My niece had a ball up there!

Since we dined as a large party, we were in a private room and the food was served buffet style. Fried chicken tenders, grilled salmon, salad and sides such as mac’n’cheese, green beans and corn was served. Mom and I ordered off of the main menu and without discussion, ordered the same meal: crab cakes with a remoulade sauce and a strawberry spinach salad topped with candied pecans, goat cheese and a light vinaigrette dressing. Very good. 

The restaurant is walking distance to the river, so we all hung out sightseeing, laughing and souvenir shopping. My niece and her troopwere walking the river front for the views, but also in the direction of their hotel. Once we figured that out, mom and I stopped halfway and walked back to our car. The time had come to part ways and for us to head back home. What better way say goodbye than to have ice cream with my niece! (We were right in front of a candy store called Savannah’s Candy Kitchen.) Perfect. Both had sugar cones and two scoops of gelato. She had a scoop of raspberry and a scoop of lime…I had a scoop of raspberry and a scoop of mango. Since she skipped away waving, that ought to explain how good it was. πŸ™‚

I did take photos along the way, and will share a few below. Out of respect for my travel companions who don’t love the selfie movement the way I do, I save those shots for our scrap book. I am so thankful we got to share these moments together and my niece hugged me and asked, “Are you going to blog about this? If so, don’t forget to mention this gelato!” She knows me well.

A toast: to family, adventures and miracles. Oh and to the midnight jolts out of bed, reminding me to get up, Gooooo, write & repeat. ❀

The Smitten Chef 



Wanderlust: 25 Signs You’ve Been Bitten by the ‘Travel Bug’

The only bug bite I have not heard any complaints about- the “travel bug.” A positive spin on catching something infectious- in this case it’s an extremely deep feeling one catches to travel. Even the people I know who can no longer physically travel speak so fondly of their past it is as if they are being transported mid story. πŸ™‚

Whether you are a seasoned traveler, international traveler, or just got back from your first adventure, this universal fact remains: once the travel bug bites you, there is no going back. You are a traveler for life. Your wanderlust is in constant need of attention. If that is you, welcome! If you aren’t sure, below are some signs indicating you have been bitten too.

1. You start all of your stories with, “When I was in…”

2. Every problem has a solution. The word travel is somewhere in the answer.

3. You collect items from your destinations and use them as decoration. (Examples include postcards, coffee mugs, shot glasses, hotel goodies, the local currency.)

4. You can plan an entire road trip months in advance, but have trouble deciding what’s on your agenda for the upcoming day. 

5. You notice your bucket list is not getting shorter, but longer. 

6. Your Instagram page doubles as an online vision board for destinations. 

7. You read travel blogs, guidebooks and websites for fun.

8. You share inspirational quotes and photographs about traveling on any social media outlet you are a part of.


9. Your clothes tell their own stories. (A purse from Milan, a headscarf made just for you while studying fashion abroad, a Waffle House pin from your favorite server while in Texas.) 

10. If your job requires travel, you have hit the jackpot!

11. You have your next 3 destinations planned out in your mind.

12. Your life goals include things like having one friend in every time zone or visiting as many countries as possible. 

13. If someone you know implies you aren’t “really” friends with Anthony Bourdain, you contemplate ending your friendship with them. (You don’t need that type of negativity in your life.) 

14. You have taken this picture many times! πŸ™‚ 


15. You might not have the best clothes, but you have fabulous travel gear. 

16. You simply cannot imagine settling down with anyone who doesn’t share the same passion for travel as you. 

17. You know how to say “hello” & “goodbye” in multiple languages. 

18. You plan a birthday trip instead of a birthday party in your hometown. (Hell, the goal is to find a party while visiting!) 

19. If you have not been anywhere in a few months, you have withdrawals. 

20. If you could turn back time, it would be so you could travel more with the ones you love.

21. You volunteer yourself to go on other people’s vacations. 

22. You have a “just in case” bag packed and ready to go. Good for 3 full days of travel. 

23. You learn the city 30 miles away from home can be just as much an adventure as a city 3,000 miles away. ❀

24. You consider your passport to be your favorite accessory.

25. You look up the definition of wanderlust to make sure it’s a real word and to serve as validation that what you feel inside is a real thing. 

To Travel Tales,

The Smitten Chef πŸΎ

Life’s Mise en Place: Gratitude

The French term mise en place (meez ahn plahs) literally means “everything in its place.” In the culinary world, it means gathering and prepping the ingredients needed for cooking. It also includes going a step further and includes assembling the tools and equipment needed to cook them. The concept is simple: A chef should have at hand everything needed to prepare and serve food in an organized and efficient manner.

There is a popular saying, “If you stay ready you ain’t gotta get ready.” I have always liked that quote. Number one, it makes complete sense. Number two, a person can say it in a loud voice with great enthusiasm and it is usually received as motivation by whoever is in earshot. I have found it makes people want to get up and do something!

I have spent the past few days in silence. Not because I really want to; merely because there is not much to say. I cannot say there was a lot to do, because I thought I had done as much as I could until given my next steps. The steps I had taken clearly did not align with my plans (least not in full) because I found myself in the same place. Literally.Β Time to retrace my steps and see what happened. Joy.

In the culinary world, mise en place differs in every position, and definitely from restaurant to restaurant. A banquet chef’s work may differ every night, while a sauciers work in a restaurant is more than likely identical night after night. A personal chef’s mise en place is dependent upon what the client needs during their time together and might vary day to day. Regardless of the number of items needed or the complexity of the recipes being prepared, the focus of mise en place requires careful planning, efficient organization and attention to detail.

Usually when unexpected silence comes my way, I try listening very closely to what is being said. I also try listening and comparing things to the culinary world, because it sheds a new perspective on how to handle tasks (or gives me more to do.) I find myself eager to do anything connected to food because it is a joy to be around it. I’m generally a Chatty Cathy, so when I have nothing to say (especially when I should) life sure does. Today Life screamed at me: JOY. THANKSGIVING. TRUST.Β 

I am in a place where my life’s transition has been met with a serious attitude check. More than one chapter was being closed, an entire volume is complete. I had not complained about the tasks given, for the goals and next volume is an exciting one. When I found myself missing out on the first stop of the next phase, I had to reevaluate things quickly; and since I had completed the necessary steps all that was left was my attitude. I cannot take with me the same feelings I had in the last chapters. They were pained, disappointed and cautious. I wrote a book to place everything there and leave it in an honest and respectful way. What I forgot to do was replace those feelings with something else, so that they would not come back. Feelings such as joy. Thanksgiving. Trust.Β 

If there is one thing I do know is the more prepared in the culinary world, the better. When something goes awry, or a situation occurs that one has zero experience in, at least they are as prepared as can be. Allowing the chance to operate quickly and with a clear head. The same thing can be said about life; it dishes out an incredible amount of ‘entrees’ for us to sample. Some taste good, others lack flavor. Some days you may want to spit out what’s been given without a second thought, while other times you may find yourself trying to develop the flavors and richen the experience. The lesson I have found is to approach life with my own mise en place: An ounce of joy, a dash of thanksgiving…a sprinkle of trust. Gratitude.Β So when something tastes sour, I don’t have to spend longer than necessary adjusting my attitude- I was ready. And who am I kidding? The more gratitude, the better. Sprinkle that $hit everywhere. Β  πŸ™‚

From My Pot to Yours,

The Smitten Chef ❀

 

Follow the roads and signs that will take you places!

IMG_9340 Iceland Road Leading To 2016.JPG

 

 

 

A Letter to My Sister: Goodbyes Sprinkled with HellosΒ 

Hello Sister,

Today marks one year since you passed away. I thought I was going to be curled in a ball all day, but you have not allowed that. I also thought I would have plenty to say, however the words that started my day ended up being silenced and turned into action steps. Everywhere I went I could feel you. Then I remembered a quote by Rumi which says: goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation. It was this quote which opened the door for so many wonderful thoughts to share with you.

1. Everywhere I go, a butterfly follows me. Most days it is the same yellow and black one; the other days I just laugh thinking about your love for costumes & welcome your change of clothes. 

2. Whenever I go to the coffee shop, they play songs we used to jam to. What’s even better is when it is your turn to sing, a random customer nearby is humming your favorite parts. 

3. I saw what you did there by the mailbox…blooming overnight. Showing me it is truly possible to do in the most subtle way, while encouraging my own growth. The flowers look lovely. 🌺

4. Thank you for giving me a different reason to count the hours this week. 

5. You have caused me to open my eyes to life and take everything around me in. I search for you, and in my findings so many unattractive things are now beautiful in their own way. 

6. Today, Prince passed away. 

7. Sometimes memories of you sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks. Don’t fret, some moments are sheer laughter.

8. The word of today is litany. The first definition says it is a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation. In my personal litany, I speak of all the great ways you touched my life and influenced those around you to be our very best. I whisper thank you. 

9. In full effort of remaining odd and cracking lame jokes, I marry the two by stopping this list now with a riddle I told the Awesomes. “I just ate a piece of cheese…it was soooo gooood;ahhhhh! Can you guess the kind by my reaction?!” (Babygirl guessed, but I’m certain the other two ignored me on purpose.) Answer is Gouda. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

There is an anonymous quote on friendship that says, “A friend who understands your tears is much more valuable than a lot of friends who only know your smile.” My ideal would be to not have ever said goodbye to you with my eyes, but only a friend like you would take my tears and understand how to awaken my soul to find your new “Hellos.” Fly High Sweets. You are missed. 

Purple Will Always Reign,

The Smitten Chef πŸ’œ

 

* When we used to search for the softest clouds. *
 * Bloom where you are planted. *

* An inverted picture of the mailbox flowers that I love! *  

A Letter to My Sister: TimingΒ 

“Listen more often to things than to beings.” -Sweet Honey in the Rock

Hey T-Lady,

WordPress notified me the last time I posted a blog was in October. Shame on me; I have had plenty to say. I’m sure all my bleeding journals agree. I was walking the other day and tried to interpret time. How it is measured and is it accurately depicted in said moments? We are all given the same 24-hours, so why do some days ‘fly by’ and others drag along? It is in my walks time manages to stand still in a way I understand and can relate to. I surely appreciate a clock but certain moments, thoughts and actions even defy those. Nevertheless, let me fill you in on things that have filled this six month gap of space. 

1. Dad has been learning and studying how to photograph the stars and moon. He posts them on Facebook under a title, “Learning to photograph the heavens.” His shots are great (but we knew that), and the title always make me think he is photographing upclose bites of what you see. 

2. The other day it took me well over 45 minutes to clean the blender to my standards. I have now dedicated and labeled a toothbrush as its Secondary Blade Cleaner. It is capitalized because there are instructions to the usage of it. Your brothers think I am a gem (not) and I can totally picture you cringing upon me showcasing this to you to as if I discovered gold. Your kids? They’re going to love me too, hehehe. ❀️

3. Speaking of your brothers, they have come to me at random to share stories of coincidences…they then walk away saying that there really aren’t any, it is just ‘divine timing.’ 😊

4. Speaking of timing, your birthday and our writing buddies birthday are one another’s half birthdays! Coincidence? I think not. 

5. I have been studying food theories and must say I LOVE IT!  Absolutely fascinated by it. Totally worth making a spreadsheet/PDF of my findings and incorporating it into the business. There is one called the Ayurveda diet (it’s a lifestyle but there’s a food portion to it as well) that makes me think of you. I feel it would’ve served you well; then again, so would anything that vindaloo falls into alignment with. 😊

6. The word of today is vagary. It means “an odd or eccentric idea or action.” Can people live their lives as vagaries?!? It comforted me. 

7. I cannot WAIT to hang with the girls in California! Beaches, spas, great food, better company. Every experience with them lifts my spirits. I already know my hairstyle and nail polish color. Ha!

8. I made a face mask for the past three nights! 1TBSP honey, 1/2 organic lemon. Put my face over a bowl of hot water to open my pores before placing the mask on. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinsed with warm water to remove the mask, then patted my face down with cold water to close my pores. My skin feels amazing! I did it because I had pimples and even those are silky smooth. Gives an entirely new meaning to when we would say, “Lemme eat your face.” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

9. Some days I am a vegan, other days a full blown carnivore. It is the moments in between I’ve learned not to judge anyone- listen to your body. 

10. My photography has gotten better! I still have zero idea of this photo jargon, but I’m hoping to have nailed it before capturing the Northern Lights!

11. Two words: Dierks Bentley. How I missed this gorgeous specimen I do not know; but you can bet several dollars I’ll know at least one of his songs by my birthday! #GoodGracious #HeIsSoHandsome #IWantedAReasonToHashtagSomethingAndThisIsIT! 

I went for a walk about two Tuesday’s ago. This particular tree had bare branches. On Wednesday, it had two or three white flowers on it. By Thursday, the entire tree had blossomed. The following week, this past Thursday to be exact, it had shed its petals and was GREEN through and through! I caught the news that day and they spoke on how fast plant life was developing in patterns we have decided for nature. I am in no way an expert on plant life nor snub scientific discoveries, but having watched the transformation of the tree everyday from a nature lovers perspective, I feel it was in direct alignment and timing of what it was placed on this earth to do: BLOOM. Only time frame it followed was Mother Nature’s. Imagine that. 

I miss you Butterfly! 

Everything is Everything,

The Smitten Chef. 🌟🌟🌟

***Below are some photos I took during these walks.***
   
  The bird let me get within a hands reach! So cool.  

πŸ“ A Letter to My Sister πŸ’œ

Hello Love,

I was just watching an episode of TED Talks. This gentleman spoke on positive psychology and how he studies the links between happiness and success. I won’t butcher his lecture/information by trying to quote him, but I will tell you about one section of things people could do to participate and “train our brain.” He gave the assignment to do five things everyday for 21 days:

1. 3 Gratitudes: (different ones each day cause the brain to get in the habit of scanning the world for the positive instead of the negative first.)
2. Journaling: writing about one positive experience that has happened in the past 24 hours causes the brain to relive a happy moment. 
3. Exercise: it teaches our brain that our behavior matters. (I loved that.) 
4. Meditation: allows our brain to learn how to focus on the task at hand. (Which is a beauty since our society praises multi-tasking.) 
5. Random Acts of Kindness: praising or thanking somebody in our social support system. 
I loved his presentation and felt if I wrote you, I could do all five at once. It has also always been easiest to talk with you.  I then used typing as “exercise,” laughed hysterically and began squatting while typing. I lost my balance and figured I will do 4 of the 5, thereby proving meditating on what to say to you should in fact be my only goal.πŸ˜„

1. I am thankful for the weather. I am thankful for silence. I am thankful for chocolate. 

2. I have been very quiet since you passed away. There’s not much to say & when there is, I want it to be of importance. Plus, not many get my humor. Jokes are even less funny when you have to remind people to laugh! 

3. Speaking of funnies, I tried sharing hilarious memes with others. It wasn’t the same, so now I keep them in a treasure box of randomness I will share with you when we meet again. 

4. In an effort to be romantic, I asked a gentleman his favorite color. He answered, “The color of money.” Probably the worst color for cookies, but he stole my heart nonetheless with his answer. πŸ™Œ

5. I have a newfound culinary admiration! I call him my virtual mentor. (BTW, Chef S is currently doing his thing around the country and it is so wonderful and inspiring to see!) This chef I recently discovered is named Eric Ripert. He is from France & went to culinary school there, but now lives in NYC and is one of the greatest chefs. His flagship restaurant is named Le Bernardin, which I believe opened in 1986, specializing in seafood and is in the heart of the city. He and the restaurant have won so many awards and he has also gone on to open other dining establishments; but what stands out to me is his humility & passion for culinary arts. I also enjoy his uniquely elegant approach to cuisine, and also being child-like in his learnings yet still being able to explain proper classical techniques. . .I found out about him from re-reading Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential. There he mentioned Chef Ripert (something along the lines of how Chef Ripert wouldn’t be calling him for ideas on tomorrow’s fish special) and I put the book down and began my research. I am still learning, but he is fantastic, and extremely talented. And get this shit: THEY ARE SUPER GOOD FRIENDS NOW! Chef Ripert called him and as Mr. Bourdain said, “Things were different, boy, I could see that now. My heroes were calling me up.” 😊 The entire moments that lead me to finding him are a beauty. I actually watch television now too because of him, ha! God is funny. 

6. I found the land of love. I’ve landed…love still eludes me. Or perhaps I’m not great at expressing it. We shall see. 

7. On your birthday, the word of the day was xeric. It means characterized by, relating to, or requiring only a small amount of moisture. 

8. Culinary wise, it has been very difficult to get back into the kitchen. All kitchens. So I have found ways around being in the kitchen yet still lovin’ on food. I think you’ll be proud of my decisions and shifted goals, but I hope that when it all comes together, I will be able to share my love and knowledge of food in the way you & I shared our professions with one another: with genuine enthusiasm, wildly entertaining and with respect of the craft while dishing out relevant/relatable information. 

9. Imagine a WORKING lottery ticket. Yasssss. 

10. The world is a lot colder with you not here. The thought of you warms me up. You are missed. 
The last portion of the exercise was random acts of kindness. Send a thank you letter, email or call someone and tell them how wonderful you think they are or they made you feel. So I will close with this photo I took about a month ago. Our brother’s birthday I believe, but don’t quote me on that. I saw some purple shooting through the sitting room window, ran outside and looked up: A RAINBOW! Where the hell did it come from?! Grabbed my camera, took some shots and then as the sunset, grabbed me another. I like to think it was you. So here I am. Thanking you for your random act of kindness. You’re a beaut & I am grateful. 

*Italy’s been calling me every night. It whispers, “Hey Sicily!” πŸ˜‚πŸ™πŸ˜‚* 

Until We Meet Again, 

The Smitten Chef 😘